RACHEL STAMP has been more than quiet these last years since their amazing 2002 release “Oceans Of Venus” . The band has recently reformed for a show in London to coincide with their new Best Of CD (“Now I’m Nailed To Your Bedroom Wall I’ve Only Got Myself To Blame”.) If you haven’t been lucky enough to fall in love with this unique band yet, then just think that it’s never too late. David Ryder Prangley (vocals/bass) tells us a bit more about RACHEL STAMP’s past, present and future…
Let’s start with a bit of history. Can you introduce RACHEL STAMP? How did you meet? Is it true that you met at a Vanessa Paradis show? Could you have replaced Johnny Depp?
DRP: Well firstly, nobody can replace Johnny Depp! Secondly, yes we did meet at a Vanessa Paradis show. Whether that was literally, figuratively or metaphorically depends on who you ask.
It seems like RACHEL STAMP has always been a very British phenomenon. I remember you toured in the US though, how was this tour? Do you think that the mix of influences and personal approach of music we can find in RACHEL STAMP just works better in the UK or can you imagine other reasons why the band has always been more popular there?
DRP: Whenever we played in the USA we always went over really well. I think American audiences like the fact that we have big riffs in our music. It was funny because people would always say ‘Oh you be careful when you go to Texas!’, thinking we’d get killed for wearing make up but Texas is a lot like South Wales where I grew up, and we went down a storm. I remember playing in Lubbock and the audience was girls at the front saying ‘Oh you’re so pretty!’ and Army guys at the back shouting ‘You ROCK!’.
You had experiences both with major and indie record labels. What have you learned from this?
DRP: That none of them know what they’re doing! The amount of meetings we had where we just sat there thinking ‘These people are morons’… It’s heartbreaking when I think of how many great bands had their careers fucked up by incompetent record labels. And it all gets so personal.
When we were signed to WEA our A+R guy Clive Black (who was amazing) fell out with the MD and left. The MD just turned around and said ‘Okay- I hated that guy… send a memo to all departments, DO NOT PROMOTE any of his acts!’. They spent £50,000 recording our debut album that they never had any intention of releasing. I consider that to be stupid.
You’ve got a Best of album (“Now I’m Nailed To Your Bedroom Wall I’ve Only Got Myself To Blame”) out now and you recently played a gig in London. How did all of this happen?
DRP: Well the idea for the ‘Best Of’ album came about because it had become very difficult for people to find our albums and I didn’t want the band to be forgotten about, so we got together with Cargo and Serena Records and came up with the idea of a compilation spanning our whole recording career.
It was originally going to be a CD-DVD double set, but we ran into problems getting the rights to some of our promo videos, and also discovered a whole archive of gig footage and stuff so we decided to wait and get the rights to everything and put out a full length DVD later in the year … Anyway… We got together to discuss the album and the idea came up to do a show. I think it had been on all our minds for a while, and now the time was right. The stars aligned and it was a really magical show.
Tell us a bit about the other projects RACHEL STAMP’s members have been involved in while the band wasn’t playing.
DRP: I’ve got a solo band called David Ryder Prangley and the Witches which is a loose collective of my friends from different bands… I’ve got Grog and Drew from Die So Fluid playing with me occasionally, and Robin Guy plays with me, and Ben from Ariel X… It‘s very different to Rachel Stamp. Alien faerie music… I’m also writing a TV serial which I’m looking at getting into production in early 2010.
Will co-wrote and produced the album ‘Scarred’ with Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde and played in a band called Dragons. He also has a band called Black and Blue Orkestre with the movie director Tom DiCillo.
Robin has played with everyone from the Business to Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden and performs at drum workshops alongside people like Chad Smith. Shaheena is in acting school. I’ve seen her in a few things and she’s brilliant.
Since the London show went very well, do you intend to play more gigs?
DRP: Yes, we’re going to do a short UK tour in October and hopefully some international dates too.
You have a few lyrics in French (“Les Océans de Vénus” or the few lines in “Do Me In once and I’ll be sad, Do me In Twice and I’ll Know Better”). How did you get the idea of including French references?
DRP: Well I always loved Blondie and the way Debbie Harry would throw some French lyrics into songs like ‘Denis’ and ‘Sunday Girl’, and ‘Do Me In Once And I’ll Be Sad, Do Me In Twice And I’ll Know Better’ kind of sounds like a Blondie song, so… I love the French language. More people should sing in French. It’s such a cliché to say it, but I think French is a really erotic language.
We met a few years ago at the Glam-Ou-Rama club. Do you still DJ in London? What are the best club nights for people into glam/sleaze, etc. in London these days?
DRP: I do still DJ, mainly at Stay Beautiful, which I run with Simon Price and Cherry Foxx. It’s a great club, a lot of fun and everyone really dresses up. We play the kind of pop end of glam music- T. Rex and Roxy Music, Suede and Marilyn Manson, Prince.
Decadence is another great place to go. The best club for hard rock glam/sleaze.
Could you imagine living elsewhere? if so, where?
DRP: I’d like to live in Los Angeles for a while, y’know… become a movie star. I’ll do all those well spoken fey English roles. Even though I’m Welsh. I’ll be the new Dudley Moore. I’m the right height.
In your recent interview with Screaming Tarts, You talk about a TV show you’re witing. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
DRP: Yes, I’m writing a TV serial which is very different to anything anyone has made before. I can’t talk about it because if I do someone will steal the idea. It’s really unusual and the TV and movie world is full of more sharks than the music industry, so I’m keeping it top secret.
Has music changed you or changed some aspects of your life through the years? Do you think you’re a different person now compared with the person you were when RACHEL STAMP started?
DRP: Yes. I’m certainly older and wiser! I think my own personal journey through Rachel Stamp was like a classic fairy tale. I started off with lots of innocent ambition, got a degree of success and went right off the rails, which I don’t regret because I learned a hell of a lot. I learned a lot of very hard lessons.
Luckily I regained my soul right before we made ‘Oceans Of Venus’. That album is the story of my life. It starts with ‘Starbirth In The Triffid Nebula’, which is pretty bleak and lonely, goes through everything from ‘Superstars Of Heartache’ and ‘Les Oceans de Venus’ and ends on ‘Victory’, because ultimately I survived and I’m still here which has to be a victory of some description…
Is there anything you wish you had never done?
DRP: Yeah, I wish I’d never been such a pushover for managers and other music industry people around me. I wish I’d stood up for myself more, I wish I’d confronted the people who were stealing from the band and lying to us, but at the time I wasn’t strong enough. But going through that stuff.. Sometimes the experience you gain is worth more than the money you lose. It toughens you up. It’s sad that it has to happen, but that’s life.
What are your favourite RACHEL STAMP or solo songs to play live or to listen to?
DRP: When I was compiling the new album it was a real thrill to hear the songs again. I have no problem admitting that I am a huge Rachel Stamp fan! My favourite Stamp songs are ‘Pink Skab’, ’Witches Of Angelholm’, ’I Like Girlz’ and ‘Queen Of The Universe’.
Do you have any goals or things you definitely still want to achieve?
DRP: I want to keep creating wonderful, brilliant things. That’s more important than money, or even my own personal happiness. It’s a Capricorn trait, always living for tomorrow.
Is the world’s future scary?… And what is RACHEL STAMP’s future?
DRP: Okay, here’s a word of advice to everyone reading this… People say that you can’t change the world but you can. Not necessarily on a grand scale, but in small ways. Most large gestures and grand statements are usually pretty empty. But every time that you get together with other human beings and celebrate being alive and celebrate your freedom you are changing the world, because there are thousands of politicians, religious nut cases and right wingers who want to control your every move and thought, and make you act and think the way they want you to act and think, so just by walking down the street dressed the way you want, listening to the music you want to and kissing whoever you want to be with, you are defying the haters. You are defying the people that want to control you. You are biting the apple of knowledge and enraging the outdated gods.
Wars would not happen if everyone just refused to fight. Most conflict in the world has its source in something stupid- religion, sexism, racism, homophobia; four things that completely defy logic but influence people to destroy the world on a daily basis. Rock n’ roll is the opposite of those things. Rock n’ roll is the freedom to be who you want to be.